Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

20 March 2022


Lincoln Service ~ 11 am

Hull Service ~ 6pm


Join us for Hull’s service via Zoom…

use Meeting ID: 853 0987 4584

Passcode: 204828


Service Theme

“Who Am I. Reclaiming Jesus”

Third Sunday in Lent

We continue to Pray for the Ukraine, Yemen, and all places of war and destruction and all people, creatures and the environment effected by these wars.


May Peace come

“No more war, please”




He comes to us as One unknown,

without a name, as of old, by the lakeside,

He came to those men who knew Him not.


He speaks to us the same words:

“Follow thou me!”

and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time.


 He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.


~ Albert Schweitzer 



words by John Carter


We light our chalice, this candle,

          as a sign of our connectedness, our community, and of our journey on this spiritual quest called life….



We take a moment to reflect on our life and living of this week… as we reflect…. explore and ask of yourself….

          What was good? Healthy?

          What was not good? Unhealthy?

          What would you change if you could?

          What moments, events, conversations, time alone

          that allowed me to connect to another, to life,

                               to that which may be called Divine.


As we end these reflections, as we move to worship, may we continue to reflect on the things that make life whole and how we may grow ourselves into them.

May the Great Spirit of the Journey walk with us today.



HYMN HFL 150 (CD1 / TK13)

“Pilgim’s Hymn”

words by John Bunyan


Who would true valour see

Let him come hither.

One here will constant be

Come wind, come weather.

There’s no discouragement

Shall make him once relent

His first avowed intent

To be a pilgrim.


Whoso beset him round

With dismal stories,

Do but themselves confound:

His strength the more is.

No lion can him fright,

He’ll with a giant fight,

But he will have a right

To be a pilgrim.


Hobgoblin nor foul fiend

Can daunt his spirit;

He knows he at the end

Shall life inherit.

Then fancies flee away,

He’ll fear not what they say,

He’ll labour night and day

To be a pilgrim.



Mark 8:27 – 30


Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi;

and on the way he asked his disciples,


‘Who do people say that I am?’


And they answered him,


‘John the Baptist;


                               one of the prophets.’


He asked them,


‘But who do you say that I am?’


Peter answered him,


 ‘You are the Anointed One.’


And Jesus sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.




by Rev Jim Rigby. 17 March 2022 Facebook post


I remember the very moment I became a heretic.


It was right after high school and long before seminary. I began reading the works of Albert Schweitzer. I turned to Schweitzer thinking I would find a kindly mystic. I was not prepared to find a rational skeptic as well. What I found was someone who loved science and held reason in creative tension with creativity and compassion.


I have not been able to find the quote since, but I remember Schweitzer saying somewhere that there are two distinct groups calling themselves “Christian.” He said there are those who follow the teachings OF Jesus (the Sermon on the Mount, etc), and another distinct group that follows their church’s teachings ABOUT Jesus (creeds, rituals, rules, etc.)


Schweitzer said:

“What has been presented as Christianity during these nineteen centuries is only a beginning, full of mistakes, not full blown Christianity springing from the spirit of Jesus.”


“Nowhere does (Jesus) demand of his hearers that they shall sacrifice thinking to believing.” “(It) was important, therefore, to overthrow superstition and to bring religion within the domain of reason.”


“First of all the priesthood must be deprived for ever of its influence. Then an improvement of the social condition of (humankind) must be introduced, since the level of morality depends upon social conditions. Jesus was a social reformer.”


“The law of love was the indissoluble bond by which Jesus for ever united morality with religion.”


Rigby continues…


I will always be grateful for Schweitzer’s distinction between two forms of Christianity. If someone wants to wear the big hats and wear the fancy robes of the church I would recommend following the religion ABOUT Jesus. But if you want a life of helpful trouble on behalf of ALL people (and animals too) I would take the path taught by Jesus and by spiritual and secular teachers the world over- that of radical and universal love.


HYMN HFL 101 (CD1/TK9)

“Dear Lord and Father”

words by John Greenleaf Whittier


Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

forgive our foolish ways!

Reclothe us in our rightful mind;

in purer lives thy service find,

in deeper reverence, praise.

In deeper reverence, praise.


In simple trust, like theirs who heard

beside the Syrian sea

the gracious calling of the Lord,

let us like them, without a word,

rise up and follow thee.

Rise up and follow thee.


O Sabbath rest by Galilee!

O calm of hills above!

Where Jesus knelt to share with thee

the silence of eternity

interpreted by love!

Interpreted by love!


With that deep hush subduing all

our words and works that drown

the tender whisper of thy call,

as noiseless let thy blessing fall

as fell thy manna down.

As fell thy manna down.


Drop thy still dews of quietness,

till all our strivings cease:

take from our souls the strain and stress,

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of thy peace.

The beauty of thy peace.



“Consider This….thoughts on Christianity, and the way of Jesus”

by Robin Meyers


“For a number of reasons, the church has become widely viewed as either irrelevant, the object of contempt, or both. The situation is complex, but two factors stand out. First, a narrow approach to the idea of salvation, as expressed in the blood atonement and with Jesus as the exclusive divine Savior, has played into the hands of a church seeking political power at the expense of the inclusive wisdom of its own gospel.


“Getting saved” not only is a static and highly individualistic phenomenon but narrows and domesticates the redemptive activity of God in ways that conform all too conveniently to the worldview of the current western capitalist empires.


In a land of entitled bargain hunters, salvation becomes the ultimate bargain. Second, the notion of covenant as a collective expression of gratitude and mutuality has been trampled beneath a culture whose real devotion is to private ambition. The religious impulse, born in epiphanies that awaken us to our responsibilities to and for one another, is fundamentally corrupted when it is reduced to an individual balm. Faith is always supposed to make it harder, not easier, to ignore the plight of our sisters and brothers.


In short, the church must make a crucial choice now between wisdom theology and salvation theology— between the Jesus who transforms and the Christ who saves. One is the biblical ethic of justice; the other is a post-biblical invention that came to fullness only after the Protestant Reformation.”



“Consider this: there is not a single word in [the Sermon on the Mount] about what to believe, only words about what to do. It is a behavioral manifesto, not a propositional one. Yet three centuries later, when the Nicene Creed became the official oath of Christendom, there was not a single word in it about what to do, only words about what to believe!”

Consider the life of Albert Schweitzer….


“It is ironic that none of those who took issue with Schweitzer’s theology and cursed his writings gave up fame and fortune or membership in the highest stratum of German society to live among the poorest of the poor. They prepared their critiques in the comfort of the pastor’s study or the university library, while Schweitzer nailed patches of tin on the roof of his free medical clinic at Lambarene by the banks of the Ogoove River.


Theologians who sat in endowed chairs took his Christology to task, while he scraped infectious lesions off blue-black natives in the steaming misery of equatorial Africa.


Albert Schweitzer deserves to be remembered as the greatest Christian of the twentieth century, yet he did not believe in literal miracles— the blood atonement, the bodily resurrection, or the second coming, just to name a few.


All he did was walk away from everything the world calls good to follow Jesus.”



 “Damn Straight There’s A War On Christmas”

by Chris Kratzer, Stupid Sh*t Heard in Church


Here’s a message you probably won’t hear at church this morning —

Damn straight there’s a war on Christmas.


Be not deceived nor close your eyes to the cutting winds of reality. There is a ferocious Herod among us seeking to kill the presence of Jesus, with a full-throttle campaign to destroy His Image wherever it resides.


With an insatiable appetite for supremacy, this force of darkness will stop at nothing to dismantle the message and manifestation of human equality, social justice, divine affirmation, universal inclusion, and unconditional Love birthed in Jesus. The religion shattering reality that Jesus is “all, and in all” with an inclusivity that cannot be conditioned, commandeered, nor contained, fuels the blatant insanity and rage of this evil Empire.


For Christmas is the message that Jesus is the refugee being gassed and caged.


Jesus is the transgender teenager tying the noose.


Jesus is the gay couple being stared at, in the checkout line.


He is the black man thrown to the ground and beaten without cause.


He is the poor mother labeled as lazy and lousy.


He is the elderly woman all alone, dying in the fatal position drenched in her own urine.


He is the fierce resistance of the Divine against all powers and authorities that stand in the way of the full equality, care, affirmation, and inclusion of the-least-of-these, as nothing less than the royalty of Heaven.


Jesus is Emmanuel. (God is with us)


So, who is this Herod of which I speak?


Who would dare poison the Gospel of Peace? Who would cage, beat, marginalise, demonise, exclude, condemn, and even crucify the Jesus who is birthed into All humanity?


Be not deceived, there truly is a Herod among us — right-wing, conservative Christianity, is he.


Damn straight there is a war on Christmas.


Grace is brave. Be brave.



Name Unnamed

words by Brian Wren


Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known. Gloria!


Beautifully moving, ceaselessly forming,

growing, emerging with awesome delight,

Maker of Rainbows, glowing with colour, arching in wonder,

energy flowing in darkness and light:

Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known. Gloria!


Spinner of Chaos, pulling and twisting,

freeing the fibres of pattern and form,

Weaver of Stories, famed or unspoken, tangled or broken,

shaping a tapestry vivid and warm:

Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known. Gloria!


Nudging Discomforter, prodding and shaking,

waking our lives to creative unease,

Straight-Talking Lover, checking and humbling, jargon and grumbling,

speaking the truth that refreshes and frees:

Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known. Gloria!


Midwife of Changes, skilfully guiding,

drawing us out through the shock of the new,

Woman of Wisdom, deeply perceiving, never deceiving,

freeing and leading in all that we do:

Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known. Gloria!


Daredevil Gambler, risking and loving,

giving us freedom to shatter your dreams,

Life-giving Loser, wounded and weeping, dancing and leaping,

sharing the caring that heals and redeems.

Name unnamed, hidden and shown, knowing and known. Gloria!





“Who Am I. Reclaiming Jesus”


Around nine years ago, I was reflecting on how can I reclaim Jesus, in the midst of those in our Beloved wider Community who would rather I didn’t, in the midst of those in my circle of friendships who wanted to tell me who Jesus was, and only as they saw him.


Not the Jesus the I was meeting within the pages of the bible, or in the faces of my classmates, family, friends, acquaintances and especially in the faces of the strangers I met on a daily basis.


This Jesus is interesting, this Jesus forces me to see something greater.


So, I did what I always do, I reflected, and I created Art.


So in using two historic images of Jesus, with the purposes of iconography and mandalas.


I created.


This piece in front of you.


The early church, before the Constantinian synthesis which turned Jesus, a wandering Jewish rabbi into a Greco-Roman God-King, depicted Jesus often as a young man, at times with a lamb over his shoulders, at other times he is rising out of the baptismal waters, with both a masculine and feminine touch about him. A universal sense of divinity within humanity.


In one of the most militaristic, hierarchical, male centred Empires our world has ever known, a spiritual, religious, community of communities, with a suffering, counter cultural, servant leader at it centre challenged that Empire and nearly over threw it. Not by violence, but by radical change and life style.


So what happened, simply if you can’t beat them, join them, subvert them, turn them into something you can control.


That is in essence what Constantine did, taking a Jewish sect and turning it, with the help of christian collaborators, into a Greco Roman religion. We see this change all throughout Christian practice, thought, and ritual.


The image of Jesus that began to emerge from this synthesis was the one I tend to describe as the grumpy Jesus. The stern faced bearded man.


Theologically the church completed its move away from following Jesus, to a direction  that was centred in worship of Jesus. Faithfulness was no longer how we lived our lives, but became centred in what we believed about Jesus, especially in the sense of his essence, his being, and what his life was about, what his death meant.


This was the basis for the Nicene creed. A unifying document, that really didn’t do what it was meant to do, as it was meant to bring all the variety of christians into a uniform believing community. Yet the creed did complete the move from christianity as a life style to Christianity that is a belief system and it did basically unified the Empire.


Of course you all know this basic story….


It brings us to our central question, all of us, not simply those of us who have chosen to walk in the way of Jesus. One that we find in the questions that Jesus poses to us in today’s gospel reading: “Who do people say I am?” and then “Who do you say that I am?”


We are asked not only for our personal sense of Jesus, but also of what others understand of Jesus…. Even that thought which completely misses the mark on Jesus.


These questions are important for our contemporary concerns and conversations. How we answer them will influence how we choose to take our faith forward, as individuals and as worshiping communities.


We began our lenten journey with a call to actively consider these questions. To go into our own wilderness journey, to stand and be tempted by all the competing ideals of Jesus, the ones that speak of Jesus being a source of ease, of comfort, of wealth, of cultural conformity, and yes we cannot forget or ignore the complex character we find in the various gospels with their sweet and especially their gruesome stories depicting the life of Jesus. The ones that run counter to all loud voices telling us that the way of Jesus is easy, just believe, and you will be fine. Obey a few simple rules and you will be blessed. God is here to bless your greed, your love of power, your personal empires.


Jesus runs counter to comfortable christianity.


Yes, Jesus welcomes all, especially those who are devalued by society, who are told they are less than worthy, ….. but this begins to move us to realisation that even in welcome Jesus calls us to change, not who we are, but how we relate to the world around us.


The way of love, that sees beyond empire’s limitations of respectability to the person that is beloved of God.


How do you respond?




Jesus is still asking of us…. “Who do you say that I am?”






“Times & Seasons”

by Rev A Powell Davies


“O God who hast given us to share earth’s life and to know its times and seasons, give us grace so to live that we may love what Thou hast given.


Help us, O God, in a world so full of what is wonderful, ever changing, ever surprising us with new revelations of life’s power and beauty, to accept with gratitude all that gladdens us, and with fortitude all that brings us grief.


Let us take time to watch the morning and the evening skies, to look often and long at the marvellous earth and all that lives upon it, to be with heart and soul a friend and neighbour and a part of humankind.


Let us rejoice in the heritage bequeathed to us from yesterday, and in the festivals of faith and hope.


Let us look at our world as it is, and seek a wisdom that is not censorious. Let us look in tour own hearts and be brave enough to separate the evil from the good. Let us look into our own hearts and be brave enough to separate the evil from the good. Let us be learning always, from all that we see and do, and from all that happens to us.


And if shadows overtake us, let us not dim within ourselves the light that helps others to live.


Give us, O God, to carry with us the kindness that we look for, to be gentle as we wish the world were gentle, and by being loving, to bring closer to fulfilment all that is the fruit of love.”







We’ll build a land

words by Barbara Zanotti


We’ll build a land where we bind up the broken, we’ll build a land where the captives go free, where the oil of gladness dissolves all mourning. O we’ll build a promised land that can be.


Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….

                     like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.


We’ll build a land where we bring the good tidings to all the afflicted and all those who mourn. And we’ll give them garlands instead of ashes. O we’ll build a land where peace is born.


 Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….

                     like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.


We’ll build a land building up ancient cities, raising up devastations of old; restoring ruins of generations. O we’ll build a land of people so bold.


  Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….

                     like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.


Come, build a land where the mantles of praises resound from spirits once faint and once weak; where like oaks of righteousness stand her people. O come build the land, my people we seek.


Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down…. like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.




By Rev John Carter


Embracing all that life offers us,

Looking to each other

Seeing all our giftedness and beauty

Opening our arms to greet all that we meet…


We depart in peace, to live, to serve, to be that which our world needs.


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